DarwinTunes 2 is on the way!

In the first DarwinTunes experiment we showed that all you need to make nice sounding musical loops is a computer model of evolution and an audience of critics, deciding which loops should live and reproduce and which should die.

The problem was, it took a total of 20 days continuous listening to evolve that nice music. We were invited to showcase DarwinTunes at the Discovery Festival in the Netherlands and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to try to speed up the process and also to make it more fun. So, to cut a long story short, we made a multiplayer DarwinTunes game which will hopefully do just that, and we will test-drive it at the Festival on 27 September 2013.

Welcome to DarwinTunes

Join our unique experiment, and be the first to hear music as it evolves, right between your ears!

The organic world – animals, plants, viruses – is the product of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Natural selection expresses the idea that organisms (more accurately their genes) vary and that variability has consequences. Some variants are bad and go extinct; others are good and do exceptionally well. This process, repeated for two billion years, has given us the splendours of life on earth.

It has also given us the splendours of human culture. This may seem like a bold claim, but it is self-evidently true. People copy cultural artifacts – words, songs, images, ideas – all the time from other people. Copying is imperfect: there is "mutation". Some cultural mutants do better than others: most die but some are immensely successful; they catch on; they become hits. This process, repeated for fifty thousand years, has given us all that we make, say and do; it is the process of "cultural evolution".

However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. For example, how important is human creative input compared to audience selection? Is progress smooth and continuous or step-like? We set up DarwinTunes as a test-bed for the evolution of music, the oldest and most widespread form of culture; and, thanks to your participation, we've shown that reasonably complex and pleasing music can evolve purely under selection by listeners.

Here's a link to our recent PNAS paper and here are the audio results of our initial experiment:

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